Palmer saw Verstappen pull a gap with the brakes running: ‘We know what the cause was’

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Palmer saw Verstappen pull a gap with the brakes running: 'We know what the cause was'

In his analysis at F1TV, Jolyon Palmer discussed the fight for victory in Australia, and what role the two Red Bull Racing drivers could possibly have played in it. Max Verstappen soon retired, while Sergio Pérez had a grid penalty and, according to the team, was driving around with damage.

While Verstappen initially managed to put things in order in qualifying after a difficult start, things went less well for Pérez. ‘It already went wrong in qualifying. That was a miscommunication between the team and the driver,” says Palmer about the incident for which Pérez received a three-place grid penalty due to the retirement of former teammate Nico Hülkenberg. The incident took place before the penultimate corner. “Pérez looks in the mirrors, but he cannot see Hülkenberg coming around the bend,” Palmer indicates that Pérez had no chance without warning from the team.

Pérez too slow

The analyst then takes the race data for the Mexican. ‘This significantly affected Pérez’s race, but would it have been enough to win the race? The data clearly shows that he loses a lot of time behind George Russell in the opening stint.’ The Briton started seventh, behind the Mexican, but overtook Pérez later on the opening lap. However, when Russell makes a pit stop, Pérez cannot catch up with the four cars in front of him. In fact, Carlos Sainz flies away, and Lando Norris is also a bit faster.’

Pérez cannot actually keep up with the speed of the top players for a moment. ‘On the same tyres, in the opening stint, Pérez cannot match the pace of the Ferrari and the McLaren. In the second stint he overtook Fernando Alonso. Then he lost downforce due to a tear-off. You can see that the relegation was higher afterwards, and that is uncharacteristic for Pérez and Red Bull, so perhaps these are extenuating circumstances.’

Sainz lord and master

Palmer does not think that the grid penalty and the minor damage ultimately killed Pérez. ‘However, if you look at the race before that point, I doubt he could have been on the podium even from third. That is encouraging for McLaren and Ferrari. Sainz was excellent. He was ridiculously fast in the first stint, but he also took off like a rocket in the second stint,” says the former Renault driver.

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carlos sainz leclerc podium australia ferrari
Sainz drinks champagne afterwards.

The fact that the Spaniard’s lead narrowed towards the end does not really mean much to Palmer. ‘In the last stint he just goes to the finish, probably with some physical pain. Ferrari had a good strategy. They did an undercut with Charles Leclerc on Norris, and that gave them a one-two. So a great weekend for Ferrari.’ The Italian team took their first one-two since Bahrain 2022.

Verstappen with the handbrake on

“We know what the cause of Verstappen’s braking problem was,” Palmer said when asked. ‘The rear right brake caliper was sticking. “The brake was effectively constantly on,” the Briton shares. That is striking, because halfway through the first lap the Limburger had already opened a gap of more than a second to Sainz. “This problem was present from the moment the starting lights went out, so his speed was directly affected,” the analyst repeats.

Palmer realizes that it is difficult to draw too many conclusions about the proportions because of the Red Bull problems. ‘Sainz overtook Verstappen when he made a mistake. It created a handbrake effect, causing the temperature to continue to rise. This caused the brake to smoke, eventually resulting in an explosion,” the 33-year-old describes. ‘That is the battle we have to deal with with the relations between Ferrari and Red Bull. Pérez did not have good speed, but Verstappen had a problem from the start. What was Verstappen’s true speed? We don’t know,” Palmer admits.

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